: Continuing his popular overview of the NASA Special Publications (SP) titles, Donald Boggs concludes his profile of the Project Histories published as part of the NASA History series in part five of his guides.
: The Jet Propulsion Laboratory has released Maestro, a public version of the primary software tool that NASA scientists will use to operate the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity. A free download, Maestro can be used to follow the rovers' progress in 2-D and 3-D and create simplified rover activity plans. Once the rovers are on Mars, updates will provide the latest images.
: NASA's first dedicated sample return mission to a comet, Stardust navigated today through the particle and gas-laden coma of comet Wild 2. During the hazardous traverse, the spacecraft flew within 149 miles of the comet, catching samples and capturing pictures of Wild 2's pockmarked surface. Stowed onboard Stardust, the sample return capsule will make a soft landing in Utah on January 15, 2006, for study by the planetary material curatorial staff at Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX.
: As anticipation grows for tonight's 11:35pm landing of the first of NASA's twin Mars rovers, space modelers have an Opportunity to show their Spirit for the exploration of the Red Planet with three different kits. Code 3 Collectibles' 1/10th scale Mars Exploration Rover was produced in cooperation with JPL and is now shipping. While waiting for its delivery, Erik te Groen's paper model is available to download for free. For younger modelers, there are LEGO's Mission to Mars and Mars Exploration Rover 417- and 858- piece building sets.
: NASA's Spirit rover landed on Mars at 11:35pm Saturday after a six-minute supersonic descent through the atmosphere. The first set of black and white images of Gusev Crater was received at 2:30am Sunday, including a 360 degree panorama of the lander on Mars.
: Florian Noller has posted to his website, Spaceflori.com, his latest catalog featuring stamps flown on Shenzhou, Apollo 11 autographs, Sieger signed stamp blocks and three new artifact presentations: Gemini 5 and Gemini 11 heatshield plug fragments, as well as Apollo 9 wiring harness. With this latest addition, Noller now offers artifact displays for all 11 manned Apollo flights (available as always for order now through buySPACE on this site).
NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit has captured its first color image of Mars and it is the highest resolution picture ever taken of another planet. To help you navigate its full detail and to give you a taste of the full panorama coming in a few days, David Palermo of WorldVR.com presents a new QuickTime VR.
: NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe announced plans today to name the landing site of the Mars Rover Spirit in honor of the astronauts who died in the tragic accident of the Space Shuttle Columbia. The area of the Gusev Crater where Spirit landed will be called the Columbia Memorial Station. A plaque honoring the fallen crew was affixed to the rover prior to its launch.
: When Chris Rogine first contacted collectSPACE last year, he claimed to own an "Apollo parachute" that he wanted to sell through buySPACE. It was soon learned that what he offered was of one of three main parachutes flown on Skylab 1 (SL-2). Though it was legally obtained from the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, the question still remained if Rogine had clear title to the parachute. According to the investigator who had Rogine arrested, apparently the answer was no.
: When a watch runs slow it is usually the sign of something going wrong. For Garo Anserlian, if the time is 39.5 minutes slow per day, then it is a sign he has done his job right. Anserlian's Executive Jewelers had the challenge of altering mechanical watches to keep time for Mars, a request made to him by engineers working on the Spirit and Opportunity rovers. For the off-the-shelf Orient, Seiko, and Citizen watches to tick Mars time, weight and new gears were added to the internal mechanisms, and a new dial marked the Martian hours. Retailing for $30 more than the cost of the watch, the Martian timepieces will be offered to the public after Executive Jewelers has fulfilled orders from the Mars Exploration Rovers teams.
: NASA announced today a collaboration with CKE Restaurants to offer space-themed toys with combo meals at Carl's Jr. and Hardees chains. Aimed at children between six and 10 years of age, the four plastic kid-safe toys include a Mars rover and Cassini orbiter. Available at participating restaurants today through Feb. 24, the meals also offer cards with "cool" NASA facts about spaceflight.
: Regency-Superior Stamps & Collectibles has announced that their April 17 auction will include a large selection of space memorabilia, including the estate of artist William Numeroff. A political cartoonist for the New York World Telegram and Sun for 25 years, Numeroff drew detailed pencil portraits of astronauts and scientists which he then had them sign. Superior will offer over 180 of his portraits, including those of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo crews and almost all the members of the Manhatten Project and Project Paperclip. The auction will also include panels designed by Numeroff that he had signed by groups such as the Mercury 7, X-15 pilots and the U.S. Senate Committee on Aeronautics and Space Science lead by Lyndon Johnson, as well as a collection of X-plane covers with at least one flown aboard an X-15.
: President Bush will call for a return of humans to the Moon by 2013 and retire the Space Shuttle as soon as the International Space Station is complete, UPI reports. The new plan is said to include crew exploration vehicles (CEV) to be developed as "21st century versions of the 1960s Apollo spacecraft." To pay for this, the President will reportedly ask for Congress to increase NASA's budget by five percent each year for the next five years while the space agency would be directed to cease its programs that do not support the new goals.
: Five Space Shuttle crew members will be inducted on May 1, 2004, into the Astronaut Hall of Fame in Florida. They are: Richard O. Covey, four flight veteran and co-chair of the post-Columbia Return To Flight panel; Frederick D. Gregory, NASA Deputy Adminstrator and the first African-American to command a spaceflight; Kathryn D. Sullivan, the first American woman to walk in space; Norman E. Thagard, the first U.S. astronaut to live aboard Russia's Mir space station; and the late Francis Scobee, commander of the ill-fated STS-51L Challenger mission in 1986. collectSPACE Editor Robert Pearlman is a member of the voting committee that chose this year's inductees.
: The first 360° color view from NASA's Spirit Mars rover can now be viewed as a QuickTime VR movie thanks to David Palermo with WorldVR.com. The panorama is a mosaic stitched from 225 frames taken by Spirit's Pancam. It spans 75 frames across, three frames tall, with color information from shots through three filters.
: After months of speculation and a week of media reports by unnamed sources, President Bush is scheduled on Wednesday to announce objectives for the nation's space program. The President's remarks from NASA Headquarters will be broadcast live on NASA TV beginning at approximately 3:00pm EST.
collectSPACE will provide a transcript of the President's speech as well as photographs from the event soon after a 4:30pm press conference with the NASA Administrator.
: Mercury 7 astronaut Scott Carpenter will autograph collectors' personal memorablia for a fee to benefit the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, announced the non-profit organization today. Proceeds collected from the through-the-mail signing will benefit students pursuing advanced degrees in mathematics and science. The fees begin at $35 and all items must be received by March 19.
: President George Bush unveiled today a new vision for space exploration, calling on the nation to "gain a new foothold on the Moon and to prepare for new journeys to the worlds beyond our own." Speaking at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC, the President said that this new course would bring focus and clear objectives for America's space program. "We do not know where this journey will end," said Bush, "yet we know this: Human beings are headed into the cosmos."
: Before President Bush took the stage at NASA Headquarters yesterday, approximately a dozen active and retired astronauts took their seats in the auditorium. Joined by Michael Foale via a video from the International Space Station, the space explorers listened to the President outline the new missions that they would embark upon in the coming years. Afterwards, the press sought the astronauts' and their peers' opinions, which cS has collected and published.
: At 10:39am ET, Space Shuttle Columbia launched for the final time in its 22-year, 28-flight history. One year later, Evelyn Husband has recounted the days immediately following the loss of her husband in High Calling: The Courageous Life and Faith of Space Shuttle Columbia Commander Rick Husband. The book describes Rick's path to becoming an astronaut, Evelyn's ability to cope with the tragedy, and their belief in a higher calling.
Fast-food seafood chain Long John Silver's announced today that it will give Americans each one Giant Shrimp if either NASA's Spirit or Opportunity Mars Exploration Rovers finds a present or past ocean on the Red Planet by February 29, 2004. The company will rely on the Athena Science Payload team to provide an official declaration if conclusive evidence of an ocean has been found, which for the contest is defined as a single body of water with a surface area of or exceeding five million square kilometers. "The 'Free Giant Shrimp' offer is our way of saying NASA's exploration of Mars and the discovery of ocean water would be 'one small step for man, one giant leap for seafood'," wrote President of Long John Silver's, Inc. Steve Davis in a letter to NASA.
: Advancing a story we first reported on the same day that Spirit landed, the AP has published a round-up of the Mars Exploration Rover toys created in cooperation with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The article, which mentions Lego's building sets, Code 3 Collectibles' scale models and Hardees/Carl's Jr.'s NASA Kids' combo meals, further suggests that Caltech, which operates JPL for NASA, expects as many as three more deals to be reached for use of their rover design. Though the other companies were not revealed, one manufacturer can be excluded. Mattel, which produced Hot Wheels™ toys for both the successful Mars Pathfinder mission and failed Mars Polar Lander, did not reply to JPL's inquiries.
: Novaspace Galleries will host Apollo 11 Command Module Pilot Michael Collins' first custom item, private signing, according to an announcement posted to the space art dealer's website. Collins, who for years has refused collectors' through-the-mail requests, will sign the first "few hundred" pieces shipped to Novaspace for a fee starting at $295 per piece. The offer is limited; collectors may only submit four items each and no philatelic covers, baseballs or trading cards will be accepted. Although the signing will be private, Novaspace plans to offer a chance to attend and share lunch with Collins in Tucson, Arizona through their Astro-Auction website.
: Though notice of his death comes a month late, the Clear Lake Citizen reports that Apollo 11 project engineer, Donald J. Mayhew, 80, passed away December 20. Though Mayhew also worked Apollo 15, Skylab and Space Shuttle missions, he may be best remembered by the astronauts as their "jeweler". Mayhew is credited with crafting the astronauts' mission insignias into gold jewelry, which they would then fly into space. The pastime lead to a post-NASA advocation with certification from the Gemological Institute of America.
: The U.S. Space Walk of Fame in Titusville, Florida, will serve as venue and co-host for the first annual Air and Space Autograph Show to be held May 23-24, event organizers Al Hallonquist, Steve Zarelli and Rex Hall announced today. Scheduled to appear are astronauts Alfred Worden, Paul Weitz, Jack Lousma and "Doc" Graveline; pilots "Slick" Goodlin, Seymour Rosing, Jack Wiles and "Scrappy" Johnson; and Mercury 13 'gals' Jerri Truhill, Bernice Steadman, Rhea Woltman and Sarah Ratley. More guests are expected to be announced soon.
: The second of NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers sent signals to Earth during its bouncy landing and after coming to rest on one of its side petals. Engineers at JPL received the first signal from Opportunity on the surface at 12:05am. Four hours later, the first images of Meridiani Planum arrived on Earth, showing an outcrop of rocks and airbag trails in the soil.
: Pages from Ilan Ramon's handwritten diary, recovered during last year's search for Columbia debris, have been pieced together and are now the focus of a documentary to be broadcast on Israeli TV beginning this week. The surviving journal, which covers in Hebrew the first six days of the STS-107 mission went unidentified until it was returned to Ramon's widow Rona, who recognized her husband's handwriting. She turned to forensic scientists and manuscript experts to reconstruct the hole-ridden and bleached pages. In addition to details about the flight, Ramon also wrote a prayer in the diary so he would recite it properly on Sabbath while in space.
: NASA has chosen January 29, as a 'Day of Remembrance' for crewmembers lost during the Apollo, Challenger, and Columbia accidents. The nation will honor all its fallen astronauts, and in particular mark the one year anniversary of the loss of STS-107, at tributes to be held at NASA centers, museums, Arlington National Cemetery and even the Super Bowl on Sunday.
: Circulation began Monday for Michigan's quarter-dollar coin, part of the U.S. Mint's 50 State Quarters Program. Though it does not feature an astronaut or shuttle, Michigan's coin does have a space connection. The quarter's depiction of the state outline was inspired by Michigan-born astronaut Jerry Linenger, who noted that "from space, there is no other region on the globe so recognizable." The state's silhouette with the Great Lakes will grace the back of 450 million quarters.
: "Through recorded history explorers have had both the honor and responsibility of naming significant landmarks," said NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe upon memorializing the crew of Apollo 1, Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee, by dedicating the hills surrounding the Spirit Mars Exploration Rover landing site to the astronauts.
: As is noted above in Today in Space History, the seven-member STS-51L crew of Shuttle Challenger was lost 18 years ago today. To mark the anniversary, NASA continued its tradition (see earlier updates: 1, 2) of dedicating features on the Martian surface; today it was Opportunity's landing site as the Challenger Memorial Station.
: NASA chose today as a "Day of Remembrance" for crewmembers lost during the Apollo, Challenger, and Columbia accidents. As we pause to remember the 17 astronauts lost inside spacecraft, we also honor those who died in service to the program. As Larry McGlynn writes, Colin Burgess' and Kate Doolan's book gives all of NASA's Fallen Astronauts their due.
: The Federal State Archives in Russia will open an exhibit Saturday of Yuri Gagarin-related artifacts, reports The Moscow Times. In addition to working models of Vostok components and items that belonged to the first cosmonaut, "Yuri Gagarin: Man and Legend" displays once-classified papers that describe 30 years of Soviet space exploration activities. According to curator Tatiana Golovkina, "the documents cover... the creation of a reactive scientific research institute at the beginning of the 1930s to the first flight."
: Journalist Neal Thomspon had access to the astronaut's family and friends to write Light This Candle: The Life and Times of Alan Shepard - America's First Spaceman. The biography, to be released in March, relies on private papers and interviews with John Glenn, Wally Schirra, Gordon Cooper, and others to capture the details of Shepard's life, his historic first suborbital flight on Freedom 7 and his mission to the Moon on Apollo 14.